February 13, 2009

It's Finn for the win!

That clerihew contest was a hoot, wasn't it? I enjoyed them all and choosing the finalists was tough. In fact, I could only narrow it down to eight, while I asked Evad to tell me his top five. We gave extra credit for (1) clerihews in which the famous person's name appeared at the end of the first line so that the second line rhymed with the name, (2) inside-crosswords evocation of crosswordese, (3) biographical content, and (4) a pleasing meter (uneven line lengths okay). Would you believe all five of Dave's picks were in my final eight? We agreed that Finn's take on the Gabor sisters rocked:

Eva Gabor
Doesn't have any fun anymore.
Everybody's ditched her to play Twister
With Zsa, her half-sister.

EVA, GABOR, ZSAZSA, and ZSA all appear in crosswords, and ZSA is sometimes clued jocularly as [Eva's half-sister?]. ZSA should be completely illegitimate crossword fill, and yet constructors get away with using the half name—and nobody complains because it's still gettable.

Finn, let me know (via e-mail) if you'd like me to choose a prize book for you or if you've got your eye on one in particular. Congratulations!

Read on for the five runners-up:

Two of animalheart's clerihews grabbed us:

Ella Fitzgerald,
Whenever imperiled
By pointy-clawed cat,
Would simply sing, "Scat!"

ELLA clues often mention scatting and SCAT clues often mention Ella, so we have a nice two-fer here. Bonus points for finding a solid rhyme for Fitzgerald and for playing around with two wildly different meanings of the word "scat."

It's said Uri Geller
Would sit in his cellar
Just listening to tunes
And unbending his spoons.

URI's purported spoon-bending has been alluded to in many a crossword clue. I'm partial to this one for the visual of a guy sitting in the basement, grooving on some tunes while straightening flatware.

Janie entertained with the Olive OYL/Popeyesque "goil" rhyme and the description of Ms. Oyl's physique. Extra points for carrying Popeye's dialect through it.

popeye's flame oyl
is one skinny "goil."
sez pop, "she's my sweetie --
i don't like 'em too meaty!

Joon Pahk submitted two rapper clerihews. I liked the one about Nas because of its teaching potential—how many crossword fans know that name rhymes with Oz?—but the biographical slant of this one crystallized the Dre story. Plus: drug slang in doggerel!

dr. dre
will have his say.
he's never laconic
after hittin' the chronic.

Joon's other finalist skewed literary (talking trash about Coleridge) while hitting us up with wildly varying line lengths. Rhyming a classical muse with 20th-century slang was an inspired touch.

was often blotto.
is there any other explanation
for coleridge's versification?